Admiral Mullen and David Ignatius

 "Traveling here with Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I attended a shura hosted by Tooryalai Wesa, the governor of Kandahar province."  David Ignatius


The rest of the editorial is marginally interesting.  At this point the incompetence of the intelligence effort in Afghanistan no longer surprises.

You may remember that the Rumsfeld Pentagon had a highly developed PR and IO program that cultivated a number of groups of "opinion makers" so as to manage the "information battle" as they think of it. Journalists, retired military people, etc.  Many millions of dollars were spent in contracts for "Information Operations" both external and implicitly internal.   Eventually, the retired military briefings, meetings and distribution of talking points routine surfaced and a number of retired military people lost consultant contracts to the media.  I was invited to one meeting in Rumsfeld's conference room.  I asked questions and was not invited back.  This was about a year after the invasion of Iraq.  I had always wondered how some of the ex military I was on television with were so precisely informed.  I found out at the meeting.  They were briefed in detail regularly by the responsible senior officials including Rumsfeld himself.  Interestingly, motives for the retired officers participating were not altogether mercenary.  A lot of them believed it was their duty to fill the media with the unattributed assertions of the Defense Department and thus to participate in the war effort.  A frightening thing.  The armed forces are the most trusted institutions in the United States.  To risk that for a momentary advantage and in service to the politics of the civilian side of the Pentagon was folly.

Now, we have Mullen, a political officer if there ever was one, carrying Ignatius around so as to "inform him."  How many others are so "informed?."

Ignatius is usually the property of the CIA's information program.  He carries their water.

I guess he is "branching out."  pl

This entry was posted in Afghanistan, government, Media, Policy. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Admiral Mullen and David Ignatius

  1. Jay says:

    Fascinating account; those were truly surreal times. Any thoughts on the reports of a Trident missile test involving Saudi Arabia?

  2. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    I bet they’re making sure Ignatius has a goodly supply of Bourbon as well.

  3. N. M. Salamon says:

    Another take on Afganistan:
    interesting analysis of Mr. Karzai vs USA, vs ISI, vs Iran, and vs the local warlords; further possible points of interest for Mr. Obama when K comes to Washington in MAy.
    Ignatius is a regurgurating machine ion saervice of propaganda for the neo-cons’ main interest, WAR. He will even serve the democtrats [whom he dislikes] just so more blodd can be shed.
    Clifford summarized the value of MSM in one of the other threads yesterday. No need for any more comments on honesty, serving amirica’s interest, etc

  4. R Whitman says:

    Lets not be too hasty to condemn Ignatius on the basis of this one short statement. Give him time to see if he is fully “propagandized”. He could be along just for observation and the ride.

  5. Arun says:

    Regarding corruption –
    There is nepotism.
    There is the use of official position to protect committers of illegal acts.
    There are payoffs – one kind is pay/”grease” for an official to perform some non-discretionary function. E.g., having to pay the postman to deliver mail regularly.
    A second kind of corruption is where bribes are used to influence an official’s decision where they have discretion. E.g., to whom to award a government contract. An extension of this is where the official gets kickbacks in return for less-than-contracted deliveries (in quality and/or quantity) by a vendor.
    Which ones are Karzai and pals guilty of? Which ones are most damaging to the US mission?

  6. Phil Giraldi says:

    Ignatius is an extremely clever guy. He writes his columns in a way that distances himself from what he is reporting, making it appear that he is an objective and thoughtful observer without any biases. But he is anything but because he carefully selects what he chooses to write about and is a trusted insider both for CIA and DoD who is expected to conform to guarantee his continued access to policymakers. His performance at Davos, where he embarassed Turkish prime minister Erdogan after letting Shimon Peres speak far over his allotted time, reveals that he is not above playing a very partisan game whenever motivated to do so.

  7. Patrick Lang says:

    R. Whitman
    Well, like Giraldi I have a long experience of Ignatius’ “cleverness.”
    The Bourbon thing is new to me. pl

  8. The beaver says:

    As soon as I saw “Ignatius” I have this thought”Enough said”
    He is the mouth piece of the spinmeister machine

  9. 1. “Admiral Michael Mullen’s Speech to JINSA
    Jackson Award Dinners
    On December 8, 2008, Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was the recipient of the prestigious Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson Award. The following video is Admiral Mullen’s keynote address at JINSA’s 2008 Jackson Award dinner.
    Since 1984, JINSA has honored leaders who, throughout their careers, have upheld the tradition of the late Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson. He inspired Americans with his dedication to a strong U.S. defense posture and his abiding interest in helping oppressed peoples. Most recent recipients of the organization’s highest honor include Secretary Robert Gates in 2007, Senator John McCain in 2006 and Gen. Peter Pace, USMC, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in 2005.” For video:
    2. Per Ignatius and the the Davos thing, Erdogan is an interesting leader, IMO. The “moderate” Labour type Peres was up to his eyeballs in the Suez Crisis, Dimona, etc.:
    “In 1947, Peres joined the Haganah, the predecessor of the Israel Defense Forces. David Ben-Gurion made him responsible for personnel and arms purchases. In 1952, he was appointed Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Defense, and in 1953, at the age of 29, became the youngest ever Director General of the Ministry of Defense. He was involved in arms purchases and establishing strategic alliances that were important for the State of Israel. Owing to Peres’ mediation, Israel acquired the advanced Dassault Mirage III French jet fighter, established the Dimona nuclear reactor and entered into a tri-national agreement with France and the United Kingdom to initiate the 1956 Suez Crisis.”

  10. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    Bourbon and Branch: A request for bourbon and plain water that barkeeps especially in the South will quickly honor.
    Your mentioning Ignatius carrying their water and then your reference to his possibly “branching out” made it impossible for me to resist the association.

  11. Brian Hart says:

    Here is a link to an almost identical trip he took in Nov 2003 as Wolfowitz’ towel boy to Iraq. The article is almost identical in flow and postured questions. titled “A War of Choice, and One Who Chose It:
    How to rewrite it:
    Iraq to Afghanistan
    Wolfowitz to Mullen
    Kirkuk to Helmand
    Chalabi to Karzai

  12. Fred Strack says:

    “the Rumsfeld Pentagon” I always felt they veiwed the American people, or at least thier elected representatives in Conress, as thier enemy with respect to US war policy in Afghanistan (and Iraq).

  13. WILL says:

    from the wiki
    “Ignatius is of Armenian descent with ancestors from Harput, Elazığ, Turkey.[1][2] Ignatius’s father, Paul Robert Ignatius, is a former Secretary of the Navy and president of The Washington Post.”
    .. “as a novelist compared to Nathaniel Greene” (who quit MI6 when he began to suspect his friend Kim Philby)

  14. DanM says:

    @Brian Hart re that 2003 Ignatius dropping:
    It’s all so sad. Americans Fern Holland (knew her slightly) and Robert Zanga, who both worked at that women’s center wolfie and ignatius were so taken with, were murdered in Hilla four months later. Killers were probably local cops, though as far as i know the murders (including of their iraqi driver) were never solved. The speculation was that the killing was either tied to locals who didn’t like being lectured about women’s rights or to about $200,000 that Holland and Zanga had control of that was discovered “missing” after their deaths. Probably both. I’m sure Ignatius shed bitter tears when he heard about it.

  15. harper says:

    Word from inside the Pentagon is that Admiral Mullen has elevated one of his civilian aides, Lani Kass, to a defacto position as his personal advisor on Middle East policy matters. Nominally a specialist in cyberwar, Dr. Kass is hardly an unbiased observer of the Middle East. She is a former Israeli Defense Force officer, who migrated to the US and got a Pentagon civilian job. Admiral Mullen seems to rely on her as a primary source of advice and input on Middle East policy matters. I do not doubt her expertise. I must, however, question her impartiality. Any insights or words of wisdom re. this rather perplexing relationship?

  16. johnf says:

    You cannot hope to bribe or twist,
    Thank God! The British journalist.
    But, seeing what the man will do,
    Unbribed, there’s no occasion to.
    GK Chesterton

  17. David Habakkuk says:

    A very apposite quote. But it was not Chesterton, but Humbert Wolfe.

  18. Patrick Lang says:

    I just looked her up. A “former” IAF major who is now the principal adviser to Mullen on the ME. Wow! Is she a dual national? pl

  19. Fred Strack says:

    “She is a former Israeli Defense Force officer…”?
    This is nuts. Would we hire some former PRC officers to work inside the pentagon to give the chairman of the JCS advice on Asia? I take this to mean that Generals Myers and Pace did not groom any middle east experts among the ranks of the officer corps during their tenure as Chairmen of the JCS and the US now has to rely on foreign nationals?

  20. Well we will always have misfeasance, malfeasance throughout our society or any other. But the reason US is failing today in its foreign relations and foreign affairs and policy development, adoption and implementation is NON-feasance. No one in the military-industrial-academic context wants to do the hard work and jeopardize their current or future ability to be a consultant who of course are usually ratifiers of status quo not original thinkers, planners, or operators. Scheloris has set in across the board. The blogs, as does this one, hold out some hope but probably just the last bastion before being overrun by the ignorant.
    The description of the CV of Dr. Lani Kass, PhD looks like the classic Israeli use of an attractive, smart, agent in place!

  21. The Twisted Genius says:

    I just looked up Lani Kass as well. She sounds positively frightening… an Israeli intelligence officer with expertise in cyberwar, deception and propaganda. I also see her prominently named in Operation CHECKMATE. She sounds like a real world Dr. Strangelove. Actually she sounds more like Wormtongue from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in her current assignment. I would think DOD CI would be apoplectic over this.

  22. johnf says:

    David Habakkuk
    You’re right, Humbert Wolfe.

Comments are closed.